Forest Service to prepare EIS for uranium exploration

Comments from the public are welcome

As part of a settlement agreement in a lawsuit involving uranium exploratory drilling on the Tusayan Ranger District, the Kaibab National Forest has filed a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

Also as part of the settlement agreement, the Kaibab National Forest has withdrawn its Dec. 20 decision authorizing VANE Minerals to conduct exploratory drilling for uranium at seven sites on the Tusayan district.

The EIS will consider and disclose the effects of proposed exploratory drilling for uranium on mining claims held by VANE Minerals and Uranium One, with all exploratory drilling to be completed by VANE. Twenty-five drill sites are planned by VANE Minerals, all of which are on the Tusayan Ranger District. The EIS will include analyses and disclose potential environmental effects of future exploratory uranium drilling at the seven sites that were part of the lawsuit.

The Forest Service proposes to authorize VANE Minerals to perform exploratory drilling at the 25 proposed sites. This proposed action would constitute exploratory drilling only. No mining extraction or transporting of uranium minerals for processing would be contemplated or permitted by this proposal.

The decision to be made is what plan of operations to approve for exploration, including any requirements for surface resource protection.

VANE Minerals has a statutory right to explore for locatable minerals under the 1872 Mining Law.

The Forest Service encourages the public to express issues, concerns and suggestions about this proposed action. The Kaibab National Forest received several comments during the categorical exclusion analysis in 2007. Those comments will be considered in this analysis.

The Kaibab National Forest must receive initial comments on the proposal within 30 days following publication of the NOI in the Federal Register. Written comments may be mailed or hand-delivered to Kaibab National Forest, ATTN: VANE Minerals Uranium Exploratory Drilling Project, 800 S. 6th St., Williams, AZ 86046. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile to (928) 635-8208 and by electronic mail (e-mail) to comments-southwestern-kaibab@fs.fed.us. E-mail and facsimile comments must include the words "VANE Minerals Uranium Exploratory Drilling Project."

The settlement agreement, which was filed Sept. 25, relates to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Trust in March challenging the Dec. 20 authorization of exploratory drilling for uranium.

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